The Masks of Death

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The Masks of Death
Directed by Roy Ward Baker
Written by Anthony Hinds
N.J. Crisp
Starring Peter Cushing
John Mills
Anne Baxter
Ray Milland
Anton Diffring
Gordon Jackson
Susan Penhaligon
Cinematography Brendan J. Stafford, BSC
Edited by Chris Barnes
Tyburn Film Productions Limited
Distributed by Lorimar Home Video
Release dates 23 December 1984
Running time 78 minutes

The Masks of Death (1984) is a Sherlock Holmes film directed by Roy Ward Baker and starring Peter Cushing as the sleuth and John Mills as Doctor Watson.


The story takes place in 1913. Sherlock Holmes, in virtual retirement, is persuaded to take on a baffling case by Alec MacDonald of Scotland Yard. Three corpses have been found in London's East End - with no visible cause of death. But, judging by the expressions on their faces, they died in conditions of unspeakable terror.

Holmes, accompanied by Doctor Watson, begins his investigation, but before he can make any real progress he is visited by the Home Secretary and a German Diplomat, Graf Udo Von Felseck. They tell him how a German envoy, on a secret mission to Britain, has disappeared from Von Felseck's house in Buckinghamshire. Unless Holmes can track him down, war between the two countries will become imminent.

Are the cases related and is his client being truthful?


Executive producer Kevin Francis had previously attempted to raise funds for a new version of The Hound of the Baskervilles.[1] Francis intended to cast Peter Cushing as Holmes,[1] which would be Cushing's third take on the Doyle tale after the 1959 Hammer production and the two-part production for the 1968 television series, and feature a stop-motion dog created by Ray Harryhausen.[1]

While funding for the proposed film collapsed, it led to Francis discussing an original tale with writer Anthony Hinds.[1] Peter Cushing considered Sherlock Holmes to be his favorite role[2] but his age, Cushing being in his 70s, required the part to be written for a much older Holmes.[1]

The trouble is that I'm 70, far too old to play Holmes as he appears in the stories written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.[2]

Filming began in the summer of 1984 at Twickenham Film Studios with location work at Buckinghamshire and London.[1]

There were plans for a followup entitled The Abbot's Cry[1] but the film never materialized due to Cushing's declining health.[1][3][4]



  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Alan Barnes (2002). Sherlock Holmes on Screen. Reynolds & Hearn Ltd. p. 88. ISBN 1-903111-04-8. 
  2. ^ a b Peter Haining (1994). The Television Sherlock Holmes. Virgin Books. p. 90. ISBN 0-86369-793-3. 
  3. ^ "Peter Cushing and Sherlock Holmes: An Overview". Baker Street Dozen. Retrieved 2011-12-29. 
  4. ^ "The Masks of Death". Baker Street Reviews. Retrieved 2012-03-03. 
  5. ^ "The Masks of Death (1984)". The New York Times. Retrieved 2012-03-03. 
  6. ^ "The Sherlock Holmes Collection". Baker Street Reviews. Retrieved 2012-03-03. 

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